When you’re a real tarot lover, not just any deck will do.
As a tarot newbie, it’s important to have a deck that’s simple, clear, but also eye-catching. As a tarot professional, the deck you read with has to be straightforward, easy to interpret, and magical. I have collected at least a dozen decks in my years of tarot interpreting, but I always seem to come back to the same ones. Although there are countless decks out there that are innovative and striking and unique, they tend not to be the easiest ones to read.
The formula for the perfect, reliable deck seems to be this: basic and beautiful. So I’ve compiled a list of decks that are either in my possession or on my wish list for you to check out. All of them derive from the Rider-Waite standard, and are both affordable and easily available on sites like Amazon for you to purchase right away. Happy tarotizing, my friends!
1. Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot.
This one is my absolute go-to. Matt Hughes’ illustration draws from the art nouveau style, and is romantic and luscious. It doesn’t stray at all from the standard Rider-Waite formula, but still manages to feel fresh. It’s great for the tarot beginner who needs a simple deck to learn from, but seeks a softer, more feminine aesthetic. And it’s also perfect for the professional reader who wants an upgrade from the Rider-Waite. Each card is illuminated in gold, it’s filled with floral touches, and the colors are sweet, gentle pastels. The feel of this deck is honest, but soft, and so I love using it with new clients. This deck also comes with two truly lovely additional cards—the Artist and the Well—but I tend to remove them for client readings.
2. The Linestrider Tarot
Plain but stunning, this deck by Siolo Thompson catches the eye with its minimalistic imagery. The sparse use of watercolor creates a feeling of preciousness, while the images themselves are simple and delicate, feminine and strong. Much of the illustration itself is updated and creative, though it doesn’t deviate too far from the Rider-Waite depictions. It’s an easy deck to read with, has a somewhat wild, natural feel, and is amazingly inviting. This one is on my wish list, and the friends who have it say they’ve connected with it instantly, which is great for the beginner, and pleasing for the client. Such a stunner!
3. Pagan Otherworlds Tarot
This deck by Uusi has been on the indie circuit for a while now, and is at the top of my wishlist. It never fails to make me swoon. It’s the most expensive of the decks listed here, but well worth the price. The muted, detailed pictures look like they were drawn a century ago, but still somehow manage to stay fresh and intriguing. Some of the pictures are downright weird, but in the most fantastic, striking way. It is a deeply magical, earthy deck, and every picture looks freshly hand-drawn. It also includes a bonus “Seeker” card that seems to be a beautiful addition to the major arcana, as well as 5 “Luna Cards” that depict the phases of the moon. Also, these creators are true magicians, and everything they put out it just spectacular!
4. Golden Tarot
The Golden Tarot by Kat Black is a collage of Renaissance art, which gives this deck its deep, historical feel. Using this deck, you feel grounded in the imagery of the world into which the tarot was born. It’s rich with mysticism and serious in subject, while being stunning to behold. The Golden Tarot does not skimp in its dense, meaningful imagery, and every card depicts a detailed scene ripe for interpretation and reflection. Although it draws from an older artistic tradition, this deck is not based on earlier tarot standards, and stays true to the Rider-Waite. If you are a Renaissance art adorer, a historian at heart, or a medieval fanatic, this deck will delight your eyes and impress your clients.
5. The Fountain Tarot
A modern reader’s favorite, the Fountain Tarot by Jason Gruhl, Jonathan Saiz, and Andi Todaro is a contemporary, abstract reinterpretation of classic tarot imagery. It’s minimalistic yet dreamy, pretty and intense. It pulls you in with a misty mystery, playing with light and muted color. It’s definitely designed with a twenty-first century aesthetic, featuring silver edges and a sturdy feel, but also possesses a subtle mysticism. It keeps the standard formula, but reimagines it with contemporary flair. There is one additional card in the deck titled the Fountain, which is truly beautiful. If you want a more serious, mature deck, this is an excellent choice.
6. Shadowscapes Tarot
Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore’s deck is a bit more fluid and artistic than the others, but perfect for the reader who loves swirly pastels and forest fairies. It stays very faithful to the Rider-Waite, but definitely adds an earthy, delicate touch. There’s something of a 90s feel to the deck, hailing from the Lisa Franck era. It’s feminine and pretty, full of flowers, moons, unicorns, birds, circles, and suns. While the cards can be a bit repetitive, you really get sucked into its dreamy beauty, its watercolor deliciousness. The imagery is not scene-oriented like the Golden Tarot or the Ethereal Visions Tarot, but it’s still clear and very readable. Seriously, this deck is a pleasure to look at, and easy to get lost inside during long readings.
7. Star Spinner Tarot
One of the newer releases, Trungles’ Star Spinner Tarot is a colorful, fantastical deck that is LGBTQ+ friendly. Full of mermaids, forest animals, and angels, this deck is whimsical and fun, but simple and easy to read. I’m personally very excited to get my hands on this deck! As itself proclaims, it’s grounded in “classic tarot mysticism,” but innovates with a modern flair. It’s colorful and sweet, youthful and centering. One its most exciting features is the inclusion of three extra Lovers cards to depict whichever version of love you feel drawn to. Truly beautiful, and engaging, a vivid landscape of color and magic for the tarot beginner, and an exciting eye-popper for clients!